Armando and TJ Argue Over a New NFL Playoff System

I was not involved in this one but their email chain was so good I had to share. We, of course like most of the country, didn’t believe that Seattle could beat the Saints. Hell, very few people outside of the Northeast believed the Seahawks should have even gotten a playoff spot. Well, they showed all of us, huh? Armando starts off the argument with a reference to Marshawn Lynch’s ridiculous run and then he and TJ go back and forth, looking for ways to make the playoffs better. If you needed a good place to start from, the email was titled “Time to eat my words TJ”

I didn’t think it would come to this. I figured the Saints would summarily pound the Seahawks into submission (I can alliterate too baby), but such was not the case. Not only did Marshawn Lynch make one those rare special plays that will live on for years to come (on top of creating a seismic disturbance –, but the Seahawks were able to put points on the board and stop NO when it counted. They weren’t perfect, and they weren’t dominating, but they did what they had to do to win the game. It would be wrong of me to d-ride them after I totally disparaged them prior to Saturday’s romp, but just know that they’ve won me over.

Sadly, I was rooting against them, too. I read Greg Easterbrook (the Tuesday Morning Quarterback) every week, and he convinced me that the NFL should go to a 12-team, seeded playoff system that doesn’t account for conferences. Just the 12 best teams go regardless of conference or division. However, now that Seattle moved past the wild card game, it lends credence to the divisional system. I am torn once again.

Alas, I wish I could mock you, but I cannot. I would have put money on the Saints at -10 as well, and then left as a broken shell of a man.

This system shares some of the issues that many see with the BCS, i.e. should a team that wins a crap division/conference be rewarded, when (arguably) better teams that did not win their division/conference are punished? Granted, almost everyone in the FBS gets a crack at a bowl, and I would guess that anyone who wins their division would at least have a good enough record for a crap bowl, but can we say that Seattle is a better team than NYG or TB? Who knows. Only 6 division games are played, so technically a team could lose all div. games and still get in the playoffs as a 10-6 wild card. And on the flip, you could do one worse and have a 6-10 division champ snag the 4th seed. Highly implausible, I know, but possible… hell, possible that both happen in the same season.

I would love to see the # of division games boosted from 6 to 9, forcing each team to play one another 3 times throughout the season and creating definite division-level tiebreakers (if there are no ties). Division records would determine the division champs, not overall records. Only the division champs with the top 2 records get automatic pass to the dance, with the same 1st-round bye for both and HFA for the best squad. The other 4 spots would become WC spots. With that system, we would have:

1) ATL
2) CHI
3) NO
4) GB
5) PHI
6) NYG (I think this is right, may be TB, I didn’t scour the tiebreak rules closely enough)

1) NE
2) PIT
3) BAL
4) NYJ
5) IND
6) KC

Funny thing is, we would actually have 3 of the same wild-card matchups, but the home team would change (KC @ BAL, IND @ NYJ, PHI @ GB) – the only new game is NYG @ NO, now played in the Superdome instead of Qwest Field.

The seeded non-conference system would look like this:

First Round:
BYES: #1 NE, #2 ATL, #3 PIT, #4 BAL
#12 NYG/TB at #5 CHI
#11 GB at #6 NO (the best 11-5 team based on me not liking the Jets)
#10 KC at #7 NYJ
#9 IND at #8 PHI

Round 2:
Lowest Seeded Winner at #1 NE
2nd Lowest at #2 ATL
3rd Lowest at #3 PIT
Highest Winner at #4 BAL

The argument for this system is that all scheduling will remain the same (2x v. Division, 1x v. Conference Division, 1x v. non-Conference Division, 2 games based on previous year’s finish) and the best records would always be in the playoffs. Also, thebest teams meet in the Super Bowl rather than just having the best team from a conference. There is no chance that a losing record would ever make the playoffs, or even an 8-8 (I’m almost certain it’s mathematically impossible for a losing record to get in with this system), and there would almost never be a team that has sewn up home field throughout prior to Week 17 (Week 19?). The concept has merits.

I don’t like the idea of 9 Division games because that only proves that you can beat your own division (for the NFC West, a team that is 9-0 in division may be 0-7 elsewhere and not deserving of a playoff spot). Also, the other 7 games would become very random and also lend an unfair seeding advantage to a team from a weaker division (what if Seattle played the remaining 7 games against AFC West, CAR, DET, WASH?). That would be a decided advantage that isn’t possible with the current scheduling system. And while I understand that this was a particularly awful year for the NFC West and AFC West (27-39 and 31-33 respectively), but that is a possibility if they move to the type of schedule that plays 9 division games.

True, the extra division games would at least require a realignment of the divisions, which is nigh impossible at this stage due to geography. All told, I like your format better. Let’s play Nostradamus and see how this turns out, with no real rhyme or reason:

#11 GB @ #1 NE
#9 IND @ #2 ATL
#7 NYJ @ #3 PIT
#5 CHI @ #4 BAL

#4 BAL @ #1 NE
#9 IND @ #3 PIT (I initially had the Jets winning just out of spite, but that wouldn’t be fair… if any team were to pull off an upset like that, it would be Indy)

Super Bowl:
#1 NE vs. #3 PIT

One interesting outcome of this system is that the AFC/NFC conference title games are no more (although both could have been AFC title games in my example)

Yes, the system would completely do away with the concept of “Conference Champs”. However, I think that is a small price to pay for having the two best teams in the Super Bowl. Plus, no one really cares who wins the conference if they don’t win the big game.

I mean, Donovan McNabb has been criticized for years for losing 4 of 5 NFC Championship games, but I doubt that same criticism would be there if he lost in the Semi-Finals to a superior AFC opponent (unless they had beaten them earlier in the year).

Lastly, I can’t help but notice that you had ATL getting upset by IND. I’m thinking they’re going to lose to GB this weekend, and they’re only a -2 by the odds-makers.

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